On 8 March 2012, Mr Michael Palermo, Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (DEOPE) hosted the International Women’s Day Diversity Forum: A Conversation on Women in Leadership. The forum, facilitated by former ABC TV newsreader Ms Deborah Kennedy, was delivered as a panel conversation with participation from 130 people audience members.
Mr Palermo, talked about the progress of achieving gender equity in leadership roles since 1984 and covered workplace flexibility, part-time arrangements, working from home opportunities and work-life balance.
Mr Mal Wauchope, Public Sector Commissioner shared his perspective on the leadership and management qualities he looks for in Chief Executive Officers including the criteria for the Senior Executive Service. Mr Wauchope spoke about how the public sector landscape has changed over the past two decades.
Ms Susan Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, Zoological Parks Authority provided insight on being the CEO of an agency with a high representation of women in leadership roles.
Ms Joanne Abbiss, Chief Executive Officer, Serpentine-Jarrahdale Shire shared her journey to becoming a CEO within local government. Ms Abbiss provided tips on how she manages her professional career with family responsibilities.
The panel and attendees acknowledged that the workforce has changed and that equal gender balance in executive roles makes good business sense.
There was a view among attendees that CEOs and management need to think differently with a greater focus on part-time, job sharing, working from home as alternative options to retain good employees. It was noted that while women may have a different communication style, this should not be a barrier to achieving results.